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GENERAL REMARK ON THE SYSTEM OF PRINCIPLES.

It is very remarkable that we cannot perceive the possibility of a thing from the category alone, but must always have an intuition, by which to make evident the objective reality of the pure conception of the understanding. Take, for example, the categories of relation. How (1) a thing can exist only as a subject, and not as a mere determination of other things, that is, can be substance; or how (2), because something exists, some other thing must exist, consequently how a thing can be a cause; or how (3), when several things exist, from the fact that one of these things exists, some consequence to the others follows, and reciprocally, and in this way a community of substances can be possible- are questions whose solution cannot be obtained from mere conceptions. The very same is the case with the other categories; for example, how a thing can be of the same sort with many others, that is, can be a quantity, and so on. So long as we have not intuition we cannot know whether we do really think an object by the categories, and where an object can anywhere be found to cohere with them, and thus the truth is established, that the categories are not in themselves cognitions, but mere forms of thought for the construction of cognitions from given intuitions. For the same reason is it true that from categories alone no synthetical proposition can be made. For example: "In every existence there is substance," that is, something that can exist only as a subject and not as mere predicate; or, "Everything is a quantity"- to construct propositions such as these, we require something to enable us to go out beyond the given conception and connect another with it. For the same reason the attempt to prove a synthetical proposition by means of mere conceptions, for example: "Everything that exists contingently has a cause," has never succeeded. We could never get further than proving that, without this relation to conceptions, we could not conceive the existence of the contingent, that is, could not a priori through the understanding cognize the existence of such a thing; but it does not hence follow that this is also the condition of the possibility of the thing itself that is said to be contingent. If, accordingly; we look back to our proof of the principle of causality, we shall find that we were able to prove it as valid only of objects of possible experience, and, indeed, only as itself the principle of the possibility of experience, Consequently of the cognition of an object given in empirical intuition, and not from mere conceptions. That, however, the proposition: "Everything that is contingent must have a cause," is evident to every one merely from conceptions, is not to be denied. But in this case the conception of the contingent is cogitated as involving not the category of modality (as that the non-existence of which can be conceive but that of relation (as that which can exist only as the consequence of something else), and so it is really an identical proposition: "That which can exist only as a consequence, has a cause." In fact, when we have to give examples of contingent existence, we always refer to changes, and not merely to the possibility of conceiving the opposite.* But change is an event, which, as such, is possible only through a cause, and considered per se its non-existence is therefore possible, and we become cognizant of its contingency from the fact that it can exist only as the effect of a cause. Hence, if a thing is assumed to be contingent, it is an analytical proposition to say, it has a cause.

*We can easily conceive the non-existence of matter; but the ancients did not thence infer its contingency. But even the alternation of the existence and non-existence of a given state in a thing, in which all change consists, by no means proves the contingency of that state- the ground of proof being the reality of its opposite. For example, a body is in a state of rest after motion, but we cannot infer the contingency of the motion from the fact that the former is the opposite of the latter. For this opposite is merely a logical and not a real opposite to the other. If we wish to demonstrate the contingency of the motion, what we ought to prove is that, instead of the motion which took place in the preceding point of time, it was possible for the body to have been then in rest, not, that it is afterwards in rest; for in this case, both opposites are perfectly consistent with each other.

But it is still more remarkable that, to understand the possibility of things according to the categories and thus to demonstrate the objective reality of the latter, we require not merely intuitions, but external intuitions. If, for example, we take the pure conceptions of relation, we find that (1) for the purpose of presenting to the conception of substance something permanent in intuition corresponding thereto and thus of demonstrating the objective reality of this conception, we require an intuition (of matter) in space, because space alone is permanent and determines things as such, while time, and with it all that is in the internal sense, is in a state of continual flow; (2) in order to represent change as the intuition corresponding to the conception of causality, we require the representation of motion as change in space; in fact, it is through it alone that changes, the possibility of which no pure understanding can perceive, are capable of being intuited. Change is the connection of determinations contradictorily opposed to each other in the existence of one and the same thing. Now, how it is possible that out of a given state one quite opposite to it in the same thing should follow, reason without an example can not only not conceive, but cannot even make intelligible without intuition; and this intuition is the motion of a point in space; the existence of which in different spaces (as a consequence of opposite determinations) alone makes the intuition of change possible. For, in order to make even internal change cognitable, we require to represent time, as the form of the internal sense, figuratively by a line, and the internal change by the drawing of that line (motion), and consequently are obliged to employ external intuition to be able to represent the successive existence of ourselves in different states. The proper ground of this fact is that all change to be perceived as change presupposes something permanent in intuition, while in the internal sense no permanent intuition is to be found. Lastly, the objective possibility of the category of community cannot be conceived by mere reason, and consequently its objective reality cannot be demonstrated without an intuition, and that external in space. For how can we conceive the possibility of community, that is, when several substances exist, that some effect on the existence of the one follows from the existence of the other, and reciprocally, and therefore that, because something exists in the latter, something else must exist in the former, which could not be understood from its own existence alone? For this is the very essence of community- which is inconceivable as a property of things which are perfectly isolated. Hence, Leibnitz, in attributing to the substances of the world- as cogitated by the understanding alone- a community, required the mediating aid of a divinity; for, from their existence, such a property seemed to him with justice inconceivable. But we can very easily conceive the possibility of community (of substances as phenomena) if we represent them to ourselves as in space, consequently in external intuition. For external intuition contains in itself a priori formal external relations, as the conditions of the possibility of the real relations of action and reaction, and therefore of the possibility of community. With the same ease can it be demonstrated, that the possibility of things as quantities, and consequently the objective reality of the category of quantity, can be grounded only in external intuition, and that by its means alone is the notion of quantity appropriated by the internal sense. But I must avoid prolixity, and leave the task of illustrating this by examples to the reader's own reflection.

The above remarks are of the greatest importance, not only for the confirmation of our previous confutation of idealism, but still more when the subject of self-cognition by mere internal consciousness and the determination of our own nature without the aid of external empirical intuitions is under discussion, for the indication of the grounds of the possibility of such a cognition.

The result of the whole of this part of the analytic of principles is, therefore: "All principles of the pure understanding are nothing more than a priori principles of the possibility of experience, and to experience alone do all a priori synthetical propositions apply and relate"; indeed, their possibility itself rests entirely on this relation.


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first edition 1994/12/23 last modified 1999/8/29